Lego Connects Mindstorms And Educators At CES
January 7, 2013

CES 2013: New Lego Mindstorms EV3 Connects With Teachers

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

On Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show, Danish toy maker Lego introduced a new third generation of its popular programmable robotics platform. Lego has officially unveiled the Mindstorms EV3, which the block maker promises will be more powerful than ever, while featuring auto-detection sensors and motors, as well as the ability for users to program directly onto intelligent bricks.

These new kits will include cables, Lego Technic elements, motors, sensors and a programmable brick — known as a “p-brick.” This new robotic system will be ready to be assembled in the second half of 2013.

The system will include three interactive servo motors, two touch sensors and an infrared beacon that can control a robot from up to six feet away. The Lego Mindstorms technology now includes an improved color sensor than can detect the presence of six colors, or even the absence of color. This Mindstorms EV3 is designed to be backwards-compatible with the previous generation of Mindstorms NXT robots.

While Mindstorms, which was first launched in 1998, has been a popular line with both kids and hobbyists looking for an easy way to experiment with robotics, the platform has also been one embraced by educators. To that end, Lego has launched its Lego Education division, which delivers hands-on creative thinking and problem-solving exercises to schools, while providing Mindstorms programs for teaches and educators.

The Mindstorm EV3 platform is also the first product developed from the ground up specifically with educators in mind. The group looked for feedback from more than 800 teachers, students and educational specialists in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Denmark. noted that Lego Education has created a complete platform for teaching a wide range STEM topics via a robotics curriculum; with lesson plans composed, activities developed and digital workbooks formulated to make it easy for educators to get kids motivated and interested in robotics.

But this doesn´t mean users will have to go back to school to start building. The Associated Pressed reported the suggested age for the EV3 is just 10 and up, and chances are many younger users will be able to out-build and out-program their parents.

This new robotics kit will also be truly international, as EV3 will be the first kit to also be available in Chinese, Korean and Spanish. Previous kits were released in English, Japanese and various European languages.

Projects are designed to be flexible so teachers can reportedly mold lessons to further challenge advanced students, while still helping kids who are having a more difficult time with the concept.

As with most Lego kits, builders can get instructions that allow for the creation of a specific object. In this case, the builders can make a robot by following instructions much like what would be available in a model kit, but as with all Lego kits, what can be constructed is really just limited to the user´s imagination — and number of bricks and pieces that can be acquired. In other words, the sky is the limit and Lego is embracing this as well, promising that the new p-brick, which is compatible with earlier sensors and motors, is “more hackable than ever.”

Perhaps someone can create a Mindstorm EV3 robot that can help some users actually finish building those rather complicated Lego Pirate ships!